"Epic" Mills credited with Australia's historic Olympic basketball medal

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CANBERRA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- The coach of Australia's men's basketball team, the Boomers, has described Patty Mills' performance in the Olympic bronze medal game as "epic."

Mills, 33, finished with 42 points and nine assists after playing 38 out of a possible 40 minutes in the do-or-die game against Slovenia to secure the Boomers' first-ever Olympic medal 65 years after first competing in the Games in 1956.

Mills was joined in leading the team by fellow NBA veteran Joe Ingles, who scored 16 points in 35 minutes while sharing the defensive assignment on Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic.

In his first interview since returning to Australia, Boomers coach Brian Goorjian revealed that Mills and Ingles demanded a heavy load in the Slovenia game after losing to Team USA in the semi-finals.

"After the USA game there was a meeting and it was basically driven by the coaching staff on-board, but Patty and Joe Ingles (said) 'put the ball in our hands here and let's get Matisse (Thybulle) on Luka (Doncic) and I can go 40 (minutes). Don't worry about rest, this is it'," he told sports radio station SEN.

"That's our guy. He's going to get the ball into spots and he's either going to make a play or get the ball to the right person that can make his play, and along with those 42 points was nine assists. That's another 18 points."

The coach described him as "on a mission."

"I just sat back and steered the energy into the areas I wanted it and it was just an epic performance and I enjoyed it and it goes down in history," said Goorjian.

"It's not just scoring points and accumulating points, it's in the most important game in Australian basketball history and he's done better than anyone else ever in the world."

The Tokyo Olympics was considered the last medal chance for a golden generation of Australian men's basketball consisting of Mills, an NBA champion in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs, Ingles and Aron Baynes.

Mills, who signed a two-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets while in Tokyo, became Australia's first-ever Indigenous flag bearer at the opening ceremony.

Goorjian credited the point guard with driving the team's passion in Tokyo.

"What he did was an epic performance of any Australian in any sport, and the fact that he carried the flag, all that came with that, representing the Aboriginal community, bringing all of our cultures together. There's a tremendous responsibility. That meant a lot to him," he said. Enditem

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